The State: Its Historio R6le.
of free initiative, of free agreement, of unions freely consented to. He
saw in the individual the starting point of all society. He did not seek
salvation in obedience; he did not ask for a savior of society. The idea
of Christian or Roman discipline was unknown to him.
But under the influence of the Christian Church—always fond of
authority, always zealous to impose its rule on the souls and especially
on the arms of the faithful; and on the other hand, under the influence
of Roman law, which already, since the twelfth century, invaded the
courts of the powerful lords, the kings and the popes, and soon became
a favorite study in the universities—under the influence of these two
teachings, which agreed so well although they were enemies at the beginning,—minds grew depraved in proportion as priest and legist triumphed.
Men became enamoured of authority. If a revolution of the lower
trades was accomplished in a commune, the commune called in a saviour.
It gave itself a dictator, a municipal Caesar, and it endowed him with
full powers to exterminate the opposite party. And the dictator profited by it, with all the refinement of cruelty that the Church or the
examples which were brought from the despotic kingdoms of the East
inspired him with.
The Church, of course, supported that Caesar. Had it not always
dreamt of the biblical king, who kneels before the high priest, and is
his docile tool ? Had it not, with all its might, hated the ideas of rationalism which inspired the free towns during the first Renaissance,—
that of the Twelfth century—as also those " pagan " ideas which brought
man back to Nature under the influence of the rediscovery of Greek
civilisation ? as also, later on, those ideas which in the name of primitive
Christianity incited men against the Pope, the priest and Faith in general ? Fire, wheel, gibbet—these weapons so dear to the Church in all
times—were put into play against those heritics. And whoever was the
tool, pope, king or dictator, it was of little importance to the Church,
so long as the wheel and the gibbet worked against heretics. . ..
And under the twofold teaching of the Roman legist and the priest,
the old federalist spirit, the spirit of free initiative and free agreement,
was dying out to make room for the spirit of discipline, organisation
and pyramidal authority. The rich and the poor alike asked for a
And when the saviour presented himself; when the king, who had
become enriched far from the Forum's tumult, in some town of his creation, leaning on the wealthy "Church, and followed by vanquished nobles
and peasants, when the king knocked at the city gates, promising the
" lower orders " his mighty protection against the rich, and to the obedient rich his protection against the revolting poor—the towns, which